Anyone who’s tried to buy ammunition recently knows that some of it is scarce, some simply not available, and that some powder has been equally scarce.

Even the lowly .22 ammo that’s fueled every generation of recreational shooters is now at a premium.

If you paid 79 cents for a box of .22 ammo the last time you bought some or $7.95 for a brick of 500 rounds, you’ll be astonished to hear that some dealers are getting more than $100 for a brick these days.

And most shooters are happy to pay it.

The shortage is something we were warned about.

I was talking with the owner of a local gun shop some time ago, probably during the 1980s, and he warned that the “government” was toying with the idea of levying a huge tax on ammunition as a way of dissuading people from buying guns.

He explained that the Second Amendment and our incredibly strong tradition involving firearms and hunting always will stand as a wall between the anti-gun lobbies and America’s shooters. So he said the sneaky way for those in the government who are apoplectic about private ownership of firearms would be through the back door — to somehow restrict ammunition sales.

Everyone laughed. It would never happen. No politician who would seek re-election would support such a scheme.

Besides, there is the Second Amendment, and our culture is rooted in outdoors traditions. Hunting is as much a part of our national landscape as Friday night high school football and muscle cars.

Good argument.

Hunting used to be inherent in our right of passage. Now, the fastest growing segment of the outdoors is the surge among women who hunt and who enjoy recreational shooting, but there also are signs the youngest among us have renewed interest in the shooting sports and hunting.

Today, one out of 11 hunters is a woman. In addition, more women fish, hike, bike, paddle and head for the outdoors than ever before.

That should bode well for the shooting sports, shouldn’t it?

Not if they cannot buy ammunition.

Trevor Loudon, in a recent blog at his website New Zeal: Shining the Torch for Liberty, pinpointed the reasons for the shortage of ammo.

“There are numerous alarming reasons why the U.S. government and the military have been buying up all the ammo,” Loudon wrote. “Here’s one of them: Obama and the EPA just shut down the last lead smelting plant in the U.S. They raised the EPA regulations by ten-fold, and it would have cost the plant $100 million to comply. You can own all the guns you want, but if you can’t get ammo, you are out of luck.”

Loudon alluded to President Obama’s promise that he hadn’t thrown in the towel and that he was “working on gun control behind the scenes.”

Missouri’s Doe Run Company was the last to process lead in the U.S., and Loudon said its managers announced last year that it had dropped plans to build a new lead processing facility in Herculaneum.

Loudon continued, “With the U.S. no longer producing lead, all supplies will now have to come from China, Australia or Peru, with the overwhelming emphasis on China.”

While Congress may have told the Obama administration that America will not adhere to the U.N. treaty that bans private ownership of firearms, it seem doubtful Congress was tracking this latest assault on our traditions. And on our Constitutional rights.